Sunday, 2 October 2022

2022 Bus Driver of the Year Final in Blackpool

Preston Bus Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini 40628 in the old Corporation maroon and cream livery
After a two year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bus Driver of the Year competition is back, last having been held in 2019. The National Final was rescheduled this year, from its traditional slot of the first weekend in September, to Sunday 2nd October. The event was held in Blackpool as usual, with twelve buses being used for the driving tests this year, hailing from all over the country. During the final, entrants gain points for successfully completing a series of tasks on a driving course, or correctly answering questions in the theory test. On competition day, all entrants are deemed to be working for the fictitious Middle Walk Bus Company, and receive a copy of the company code of conduct. The driving section of the competition takes place along the North Promenade, between Gynn Square and the Metropole Hotel, returning along Middle Walk, where a further series of tests are set for each of the drivers. Drivers are allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at temporary bus stops along the route, which have been pre-positioned for the Middle Walk Bus Company. The 54th National Final attracted 89 entrants this year, from bus operators nationwide.

Diamond Bus North West Wright StreetDeck 40804 which operates out of Bolton
Stagecoach Lancashire Scania N250UD Enviro 400 MMC 15301 in poppy livery
Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire open top Volvo B5TL Wright Gemini 3 13804 from the Lake District
Lothian Buses Volvo B5TL Enviro 400 MMC 602 from Edinburgh
First South Yorkshire Wright StreetDeck 35128 from Sheffield
National Express West Midlands ADL Enviro 400 MMC 6795
First West Yorkshire Wright StreetDeck 35907 from Leeds
Bluestar ADL Enviro 400 MMC 1685 from Hampshire
Blackpool Transport ADL Enviro 400 City 423 in Queen's Platinum Jubilee livery
Arriva North East ADL Enviro 400 MMC 7570
First Potteries Wright StreetLite DF 63178 from Stoke-on-Trent
A Middle Walk Bus Company temporary bus stop on the test route

Friday, 23 September 2022

Balloon 715 Swan Song

Setting the points so that 715 can enter the loop for its break at Fleetwood Ferry
This weekend (24th/25th September) is the last time that Balloon 715 will be in use on Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours for the foreseeable future. It has been several decades since 715 last received a major overhaul, and it has been decided that now is the right time to retire the tram from active use, pending such time in the future that it can be refurbished. After its withdrawal from use, 715 will be stored on static display in Rigby Road tram depot. The photos in this post were taken during the 14:40 Coastal Tour from North Pier on Friday 23rd September.

Balloon 715 parking up on the loop at Fleetwood Ferry on 23rd September
Balloon 715 heading along North Albert Street in Fleetwood
Flexity 018 passing Balloon 715 at Fleetwood Ferry
715 rounding the curve from North Albert Street into Lord Street in Fleetwood
Balloon 715 heading south on the tramroad at Rossall on 23rd September

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Balloon 700 and Flexity 011 in Fleetwood

Flexity 011 and Balloon 700 at Fleetwood Ferry on 17th September
Balloon 700 and Mazuma all-over advert Flexity 011 met in Fleetwood on 17th September. 700 was visiting Fleetwood during the 14:05 Coastal Tour from North Pier, and while it was laying over at the Ferry loop, Flexity 011 passed by on its way to Starr Gate, enabling a nice side by side photo opportunity.

Mazuma advert Flexity 011 on North Albert Street in Fleetwood

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Mazuma advert for Flexity 011

Flexity 011 in Fleetwood showing its new overall advert for Mazuma Mobile
Flexity 011 has received a blue overall vinyl wrap advert for Mazuma Mobile. There was a launch ceremony at the North Pier heritage stop on Tuesday 13th September, with local professional boxer Jack Catterall. The tram entered its first full day of passenger service with the Mazuma advert on Wednesday September 14th. (Note - 3 more photos added on 15th Sep.) 

Flexity 011 heading north at Fisherman's Walk on 14th September

Flexity 011 on North Albert Street in Fleetwood
Flexity 011 passing the Pharos Lighthouse in Fleetwood
Flexity 002 and 011 at Victoria Street tram stop in Fleetwood
Flexity 011 at the Fleetwood Ferry stop in Bold Street
A close-up of the Mazuma advert on the centre section of Flexity 011

Monday, 29 August 2022

August Bank Holiday Heritage

First out of the depot was Brush Car 631, passing the fire engines at work on Tyldesley Road
The 2022 August Bank Holiday weekend saw three days of intensive heritage tram operation in Blackpool, with six trams rostered to operate the service on each of the three days. There was a delayed start to operations on the Saturday morning, due to a derelict building fire on Tyldesley Road which had started in the early hours. Lytham Road and Tyldesley Road were closed to all traffic for several hours, while Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service brought the fire under control, using several fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms. The heritage trams were eventually allowed to gain access to the Promenade via the still closed Lytham Road, shortly after 11:00 am. All six heritage trams were required to run together in convoy, these being Brush 631, Boats 600 & 227, then the Frigate followed by Balloons 700 & 715. A selection of photos of the daytime heritage service over the three days of the bank holiday weekend are shown here.

Heritage trams 715, 700, 736, 227, 600 & 631 travelling down Lytham Road to the Promenade

Boat 600 passing the Alice in Wonderland illuminations tableau near Lowther Avenue
Balloon 715 passing the four seasons illuminations tableau near Lowther Avenue
The frigate passing through Cleveleys, returning from a trip to Fleetwood
Balloon 700 passing St Peter's Church on Lord Street in Fleetwood
The Western Train at Anchorsholme road crossing on its return journey from Fleetwood on 28th Aug
Boat 227 at Little Bispham returning from a heritage tour to Cleveleys
Balloon 723 at Little Bispham, substituting for Railcoach 680 on Saturday 28th
Balloon 717 passing Little Bispham on its way to Fleetwood Ferry
Brush Car 621 at Thornton Gate on a run to Cleveleys on Sunday 29th August
Centenary Car 648 passing Cafe Marina on North Albert Street in Fleetwood
Balloon 707 passing Anchorsholme Park on a trip to Thornton Gate in Cleveleys

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Blackpool Airshow 2022 - The Trams

Northbound Flexity 016 pauses at the Tower tram stop, while 001 and 006 head south
The 2022 Blackpool Airshow took place over the weekend of 13th and 14th August under glorious blue skies and blessed with warm weather, maybe a bit too warm for some! This was the first time that the airshow had been held for three years, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However this post isn't about the aircraft, but the trams that were operating on the Promenade under extremely difficult operating conditions, mainly due to the large crowds that surrounded and spilled over onto the tram tracks between Central and North Piers. Due to the density of the crowds, each tram had to be preceded by a guide walking along in front of the tram, on the busiest section of the central Promenade. Note, all the photos shown here were taken on Saturday 13th August.

Flexity 002 and Bolton 66 slowly making their way through the crowds near North Pier
An unidentified Flexity heading north from the Tower tram stop
"I'm sure there's a tram track around here somewhere!"  Flexity 011 heading north
Pedestrians walking in front of Flexity 008 at the Tower, while 001 heads north
Balloon 700 heading north on a Coastal Tour near the Tower
Boat 227, seen through the crowds, on a northbound Promenade Tour
Bolton 66 following one of the walking guides at the Tower
Flexity 009 and passing cyclists near the Tower tram stop
The Avro Lancaster of the BBMF banking around over North Pier during its display routine